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City WomenMoney, Sex, and the Social Order in Early Modern London$
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Eleanor Hubbard

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609345

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609345.001.0001

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Household Mistresses

Household Mistresses

(p.111) 4 Household Mistresses
City Women

Eleanor Hubbard

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the dual roles of early modern London wives as subject wives and household mistresses, paying particular attention to ways in which the relationship between husband and wife was molded by the need to uphold the wife's authority over children and servants. It discusses how these subordinates reacted when husband and wife came into conflict. The chapter stresses wives' responsibility for preserving household resources, and the expectation that they would exert a moderating influence on their husbands' spending, a duty that sat uneasily with wifely obedience, since the line between praiseworthy advice and shrewish nagging was thin. It examines how, in marital separation cases, women and their allies were able to draw on the concept of household order to attack their spendthrift and abusive husbands.

Keywords:   household, wives, mistresses, mothers, marriage, patriarchy, conjugal love, marital separation, domestic violence, coverture, shrewishness

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